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Economic and Social Sciences Research Program

The Non-Consumptive Value of Steller Sea Lion Protection Measures

The public benefits associated with the results of protection actions on the endangered Western and threatened Eastern stocks of Steller sea lions (Eumetopias jubatus), such as population increases, are primarily the result of the non-consumptive value people attribute to such protection (e.g., active use values associated with being able to view Steller sea lions and passive use values unrelated to direct human use). Little is known about these values, yet such information is needed for decision makers to more fully understand the trade-offs involved in choosing among protection alternatives and to complement other information available about the costs, benefits, and impacts of the protection alternatives. The objective of this project is to use state-of-the-art survey, sampling and statistical techniques to estimate the value that U.S. citizens place on providing protection to Steller sea lions. This information is important for the management and monitoring of marine resources, but is currently not available. This is a multi-year project.

STATUS: A survey designed to collect information on the public’s preferences and attitudes toward Steller sea lions was developed, tested, and implemented. The mail survey was initially sent to a stratified random sample of 5,000 U.S. residents—800 Alaska residents and 4,200 other U.S. residents. A mixed mode survey approach (mail-telephone-mail) was followed that involved multiple follow-up contacts (i.e., multiple mailings and telephone contacts). The implementation achieved response rates, excluding undeliverables, of 70% for Alaska residents and 60% for other U.S. residents, which are extremely good response rates for stated preference mail-based surveys. A basic summary of results describing many of the survey questions is available in pdf form. Statistical analysis of the survey data used to estimate the public benefits associated with providing additional protection to Steller sea lions is currently in progress.

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